A reader who identifies himself as “Hopeful Democrat” commented on my post about the redistricting case (“Exit Lines”): “Please clarify your statement to the effect that it is unlikely that Democrats will win seats in November now held by Tom DeLay and Henry Bonilla. Do you mean that both seats will likely not go Democratic or that neither likely will. My interest is mainly what happens in the TX-22 (DeLay’s seat) race. What is your take on that race as matters stand now?”
Sorry about the ambiguity. I meant that the Democrats (this is harder to say precisely than I thought) may win zero, may win one, but are unlikely to win two. I haven’t done any research into how DeLay’s race is shaping up because I have been waiting for the court case to be resolved. A lot of Republicans around Austin think DeLay will win; on gut feeling, I think it’s a 50-50 race. The Bonilla district is friendlier for Democrats, but I think this is the harder race for the Ds to win. Bonilla has plenty of money in the bank; his challenger will have to start from zero. Bonilla has a huge edge in name identification in the thousands of square miles between San Antonio and El Paso, having run there for years; a San Antonio-based challenger will have to start from zero. The election is just three months away. That’s not much time to catch up. The obvious Democratic candidate is Ciro Rodriguez, who used to represent a south side San Antonio district in Congress from 1997 to 2004, when he lost the Democratic primary to Henry Cuellar. Rodriguez has never run in a general election; all of his races were decided by primaries. His 2004 loss calls his campaigning skills into question. This district may be more suited to a Democrat from rural West Texas who can hold his own in San Antonio — say, state representative Pete Gallego, of Alpine. I’d list Bonilla as a 3 to 2 favorite.